Home >Classes >Core Classes >Bard >Archetypes >Bard Archetypes – Michael Mars >


A hard world breeds a ferocious brand of music equally up to the task of defying the worst winter can offer. Civilized ears describe the heart pounding riffs, grunts, growls, and screams as chaotic noise unleashed from the Abyss’ dankest depths. Its small yet boisterous legion of fans and practitioners view these derogatory opinions as compliments. In fact, they revel in the mad burlesque of the genre they refer to as “visangst”, an abbreviated version of “violent, sick, angst”, and the bards who perform it as visangers. For them, the frantic sound fuels their wild energy and restless anger. The style’s purported founder, Angus Whittleham, dubbed his musical creation as “mortal man’s only true means of thumbing his nose at nature’s inherent cruelty and humanity’s absurd attempts to conquer that unstoppable force.” The always cynical Angus primarily focused his words for those who could hear and understand them amid the cacophony swirling around him, on society’s hypocrisies, evils, and injustices rather than dwelling on nature’s innate callousness. For a visanger, no topic is taboo. Openly challenging accepted norms comes with its share of risks, but fortunately for these bards few outside their inner circle of devout loyalists can comprehend the controversial messages hidden within their guttural utterances and behind their incessant guitar thrashing. Despite the gruff exterior, well-traveled visangers frequently borrow elements from musical traditions for cultured audiences. Many find inspiration from opera, drawing upon its profound melodrama, grandiose themes, and soaring vocals. Others look towards other sources, incorporating pieces of hymns, chants, and the pathos of religious plays into their wild performances.

Nonetheless, visangers rarely stray far from their polar roots for long. Those bards who choose a life of adventure often encounter quizzical stares from bemused strangers feebly trying to make sense of the deranged spectacle they are currently witnessing.

Bardic Performance

A visanger gains the following types of bardic performances.

Mosh Pit (Su)

At 1st level, a visanger can use his performance to bottleneck his enemies when they are adjacent to his allies. To be affected, an enemy must be able to hear the bard perform and be within 30 feet of him. Each enemy within range receives a Reflex save (DC 10 + 1/2 the bard’s level + the bard’s Charisma modifier) to negate the effect that round. If the save succeeds, the enemy’s movement is unaffected, and he takes no damage. If the save fails, it costs the enemy one additional square of movement to move into a square which one or more of the bard’s allies threaten, thus potentially preventing him from taking a 5–foot step. The increased movement costs stack when more than one ally threatens the same square, thus if three allies threaten the same square it costs three additional squares of movement to move into that square. In addition, the enemy takes a number of hit points of bludgeoning damage equal to the number of allies threatening a square he enters, though he cannot take more than 1 point of bludgeoning damage per ally, regardless of how many threatened squares he enters.

Mosh pit relies on audible components. This ability replaces distraction.

Symphonic Metal (Su)

At 1st level, a visanger can use his performance to demoralize an opponent, or counter Intimidate skill checks made to demoralize an opponent. Each round of symphonic metal, he makes a Perform (string instruments) skill check. An ally within 30 feet of the bard, (including the bard himself) may use the bard’s Perform check result in place of his Intimidate skill check made to demoralize an opponent if, after the Intimidate skill check is rolled, the Perform skill check proves to be higher. Alternatively, an ally within 30 feet of the bard, (including the bard himself) may use the bard’s Perform check result in place of the normal DC for Intimidate skill checks made to demoralize an opponent (DC 10 + 1/2 the target’s Hit Dice + the target’s Wisdom modifier), if the Perform skill check proves to be higher. An ally cannot use the same bard’s symphonic metal performance to demoralize the same opponent more than once per hour, though he may use the same bard’s symphonic metal performance to counter attempts to demoralize him. Symphonic metal relies on audible components.

This ability replaces fascinate.

Headbanger (Su)

A visanger of 6th level or higher can use his performance to incite rage in one creature. This ability duplicates the effects of the savage skald’s incite rage bardic performance (Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Advanced Player’s Guide). This ability replaces suggestion.

Death Metal (Su)

At 12th level, a visanger can use performance to sap the life from dying creatures in his midst. All creatures with –1 or fewer hit points within 30 feet of the visanger who fail a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the bard’s level + the bard’s Charisma modifier) immediately die, if they can hear the bard. (Unconscious creatures can still hear unless another effect prevents sound from reaching them, such as magical silence.) The visanger gains temporary hit points equal to the Hit Dice of the slain creature. The temporary hit points disappear when the performance ends. A successful save prevents the creature from immediately dying, but the dying creature cannot stabilize on its own and takes 1d8 points of damage, which may kill the creature regardless of whether it succeeded on its saving throw. Death metal is a death effect relying upon audible components. This performance replaces soothing performance.

Horns Out (Su)

A visanger of 18th level or higher can affect all allies within 30 feet when using performance to incite rage. Alternatively, the visanger may instead incite rage in just one ally of his choice within range and grant that ally one of the following rage powers instead: animal fury, fearless rage, intimidating glare, mighty swing, powerful blow, strength surge, or terrifying howl. This ability replaces mass suggestion.

Subversive Message (Ex)

At 2nd level, a visanger gains a bonus equal to half his level on Perform (sing) skill checks. He can use his bonus for his Perform (sing) skill in place of his bonus for Bluff skill checks made to pass along hidden messages. This ability replaces versatile performance.

Shredder (Sp)

At 5th level, a visanger can use performance to extend the duration of bard spells he casts without increasing the casting time or expending a higher-level spell slot. This ability otherwise functions as if he applied the Extend Spell metamagic feat to the affected spell. The visanger must spend a number of rounds of bardic performance equal to the spell’s level + 1 to use this ability. This ability replaces loremaster and jack of all trades.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Icebound Copyright 2021, Michael Mars; Author: Tom Knauss